The Europe 2020 Strategy, endorsed by the European Council in June 2010, establishes resource efficiency as one of its fundamental flagship initiatives for ensuring the smart, sustainable and inclusive growth of Europe. The Resource efficiency flagship should "help the EU to prosper in a low-carbon, resource constrained world while preventing environmental degradation, biodiversity loss and unsustainable use of resources". Renewable resources should not be degraded below sustainable levels, and non-renewable resources should not get depleted. The Flagship calls for the development of a Resource Efficient Europe roadmap that develops policy frameworks helping help to increase resource productivity and decouple resource use from economic growth.
In support of this, the Commission assigned a contract for this project with the following objectives:
1. to identify inefficient use of resources across different sectors and policy area's at meso- and macro level;
2. to quantitatively asses potentials and socio-economic and environmental effects of efficiency improvements, both from singular as system wide changes, up to 2050 (discussing competitiveness, structural change, employment, trade and supply risks and technical development)
3. to develop a communication strategy with relevant organisations for the Resource Efficient Europe Flagship, in order to facilitate information exchange and peer review.
The terms of reference (ToR) define as focal area built environment and infrastructure, both in the construction as utilisation phase. This includes the use of energy using products. The ToR obviously requires an approach based on meso- and macro-economic environmental/economic modelling and provides a long list of specifications for this, but also mentions more micro-issues such as “trade-offs between increased durability of these [energy using] products and other impacts during use".
The project is structured along the following tasks:
(1) Communication and peer-review strategy, including review of potential assessment strategies and relevant organisations, organising a structured debate, producing 10-12 topical papers
(2) Development of an assessment framework (including resource constraints)
(3) Scenario development and assessment, including assessing historical improvement of resource-efficiency, bottom-up assessment of improvement options in building and infrastructure, identification of potential policies and policy mixes and their potential impacts, developing a baseline and three alternative resource-efficiency policy scenarios, scenario modelling (in principle with EXIOMOD), cost curve presentation, policy implications, reporting.
(4) Recommendations for further research